This comes from Scott McLemee’s recent column about the very fine online publication, The First of the Month. In the column, Scott quotes the recently deceased Benjamin DeMott, and I think it is advice that would serve us well.
“Study humiliation. You have nothing ahead of you but that. You survive not by trusting old friends. Or by hoping for love from a child. You survive by realizing you have nothing whatever the world wants, and that therefore the one course open to you is to start over. Recognize your knowledge and experience are valueless. Realize the only possible role for you on earth is that of a student and a learner. Never think that your opinions – unless founded on hard work in a field that is totally new to you – are of interest to anyone. Treat nobody, friend, co-worker, child, whomever, as someone who knows less than you about any subject whatever. You are an Inferior for life. Whatever is left of it….This is the best that life can offer. And it’s better than it sounds.”